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Construction activity growth rises sharply – the fastest seen since February 2016

Activity in Ireland’s construction sector accelerated sharply last month and at one of the fastest rates in the 17-year history of the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index.
Figures released this morning show the sector continues to remain upbeat.
The index rose to 63.6 in May, compared to 61.3 in April. Any figure over 50 indicates expansion, while any figure below, contraction.

The pace of growth is the fastest seen since February 2016 and activity in the sector has now increased for each of the past 45 months.
Increased activity in the housing sector, albeit off an extremely low base, fed into the numbers.

The Ulster Bank index within housing construction rose to 69.2 in May compared to 61.9 in April. For commercial activity, the index hit 65.2 last month from 59.6 in April.
But civil engineering continued to lag, edging just slightly higher to 51.8 in May from 51.4 a month earlier.

Simon Barry, Ulster Bank’s chief economist for the Republic of Ireland, said that the rate of expansion in the housing index was the second-fastest in the survey’s history.
“Strong market demand for the services of construction firms was very much evident in further substantial increases in new orders,” he said. “In turn, the buoyancy of the activity and new business trends remains a very important driver of job creation and input buying in construction.”

More than 25pc of respondents to the survey said they are hiring additional staff.
Respondents to the survey were also “strongly optimistic” about the year ahead. The acceleration in activity has also led to input cost inflation.

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